Pigeon Guillemot, Cepphus columba
Pigeon Guillemots nest in the sandstone cliffs along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, as shown in the top three pictures.
A Pigeon Guillemot taking off at sea in the Pacific Ocean near the Farallon Islands, which lie west of San Francisco.
Juveniles disperse along the coast in late summer and early fall; I was lucky get two of them, above and below, at close range just off the beach at Pillar Point, the north end of Half Moon Bay
These final four pictures show a dramatic scene I watched from Jetty Road at Moss Landing Harbor
in August 2004. The adult Pigeon Guillemot had hauled out onto the beach, above, where it was
approached by a number of threatening gulls; one is shown below. The guillemot wouldn't normally
be on the beach, and it didn't fly away when threatened, so it may have been sick or disabled.
The guillemot defended itself on the beach, above, and managed to drive the much larger gull back. It
then awkwardly made its way back to the water, and started swimming away. One of the gulls pursued
it in the water, and again the guillemot defended itself, see below. After this confrontation, the gull
retreated, while the guillemot dove and disappeared. I feared that its prospects were not good, but the
temporarily successful struggle for survival was impressive.